The merit of Future as an artist is often questioned. He’s not lyrical, he doesn’t ma
ke narrative-based albums and he isn’t even comprehensible all of the time. Yet Future remains one of the most popular rappers in the world and for good reason: he makes bangers. In his self-titled album, “FUTURE,” Future doesn’t break that mold. Every song on the project features a hard-hitting beat made by some of the biggest producers in the game, such as Metro Boomin, Southside and Zaytoven. However, the most unique aspect of this album compared to Future’s previous works is that his is the only voice heard throughout the 17-track album. This idea of having no featured artists on an album has been a focus in hip-hop since J. Cole went, “Double platinum with no features,” and ensued a flurry of memes following his success. (link to meme).
However, J. Cole and Future are not the same. In fact, they are at opposite ends of the rap spectrum. J. Cole is praised for his storytelling ability and lyricism while Future makes tracks for the club without much deeper meaning. Future typically finds success through collaboration. Some of his biggest hits from the last few years feature other artists, such as Jumpman (feat. Drake), Low Life (feat. The Weeknd), and Too Much Sauce (feat. Lil Uzi Vert) just to name a few. However, FUTURE is not a failure due to this lack of diversity. While 17 tracks is a bit of overkill, there are plenty of hits on the album.
Future is a production-reliant rapper. If the beat isn’t bumping, it won’t be a good song. His newest album succeeds thanks to impeccable production by Metro Boomin and Zaytoven. The unique flute sample featured on both “Mask Off (prod. Metro Boomin) and “Feds Did a Sweep (prod. Zaytoven) is eerie and sonically intriguing. It adds a needed diversity to the beat and a shift from the monotony of the other tracks on the album. While the production on almost every track is well done, these two stand out.
With 17 songs on one album, there are bound to be some lackluster throwaways. However, this album is not built to be listened to from start to finish. If you try to make it through the whole album in one sitting, you will be bored and none of the tracks will stand out. But if you view each song as a separate entity, you will be able to locate the hits.
Some standouts include the hypnotic “Mask Off”, the fiery banger “POA”, and the somber “Feds did a Sweep.” The latter stands in contrast to the rest of the track list. On “Feds did a Sweep,” Future chronicles what it’s like to live in an area surrounded by drug slinging and what it’s like to lose your loved ones to death or imprisonment. Not only is this song fantastically produced by Zaytoven, but the lyrics feel genuine and written out of pain. Future demonstrates this pain in lyrics such as, “Got 13 bodies (what else?)
Got 27 damn victims.” While trap music is often criticized for glorifying drugs and violence, Future makes it clear that it’s not a safe lifestyle. Future doesn’t often bring emotion into his music, but he occasionally adds this poignancy to his music, which makes for the best songs.
However, not every track on this album should have made the cut. “Good Dope” feels dull and uninspired due to its boring flow and weak hook. “Scrape” features an incredibly annoying “skirt, skirt” ad-lib littered throughout. These songs detract from the album and make no sense to be included. Seventeen songs is long for any album, but especially for one by Future, as he is often criticized for his music sounding too similar. By adding in these throwaways and making the album more drawn out, he perpetuates these criticisms.
FUTURE is more of an assortment of trap bangers rather than a true album meant to be listened to as a project. However, a fan will easily find numerous hits from “Draco” to “Outta Time” to “Poppin’ Tags”. While the album is a mixed bag and some songs are lacking originality, it is clear that Future is doing what he does best and firing on all cylinders. FUTURE will not be revered for years, but it is clear that it will dominate the radio, be overplayed in clubs and blasted in cars for the rest of 2017.